Nicholas Leonard

  • Hosted by Great Lakes Environmental Law Center
  • Sponsored by Deere & Company, Lane & Waterman LLP, Schiff Hardin LLP
  • Service location Detroit, Michigan
  • Law school The University of Michigan Law School
  • Issue area Community Economic Development/Microfinance and Related Transactional Legal Projects, Environmental Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2014
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Nick provided pro bono transactional legal services to individuals, nonprofit corporations, and for-profit businesses engaged in urban agriculture in Detroit.

Due to economic downturn in recent decades, Detroit has a large proportion of abandoned properties. While Detroit has incentivized private redevelopment in some areas of high abandonment, it has yet to provide a systemized or viable redevelopment solution for some of its most depressed neighborhoods. Urban agriculture is a great and cost-effective urban revitalization tool, but is sadly underutilized in Detroit’s neighborhoods. Not only could urban farms provide Detroiters with a degree of autonomy regarding how their neighborhoods are redeveloped, they could also provide them with a much needed source of fresh food. Nicholas’ project will provide vital and sustainable legal assistance to Detroiters promoting urban agriculture.

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Nick Leonard has:

  • Helped dozens of urban growers set-up and structure a nonprofit corporation, cooperative corporation, or limited liability company
  • Counseled urban growers on a variety of legal topics, including tax law, employment law, and local property maintenance law
  • Participated in several public education events focused on teaching urban growers about the laws that may impact their urban farm or garden
  • Authored both the Detroit Good Food Entrepreneur Legal Handbook and the Community Land Trust Bylaws Drafting Guide

Where are they now?

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Nick Leonard plans to:

  • Continue to work for the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center as a Staff Attorney
  • Continue to manage the project dedicated to providing pro bono legal services to urban growers

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Jorge Roman-Romero

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